All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier & Jorge Rossy: Costumes Are Mandatory

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
Costumes Are Mandatory is very collegially advertised as a collaborative album featuring Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier, and Jorge Rossy. And while the music may indeed be collaborative, even multi-improvisational at times, it's Iverson's date and he's very clearly the leader.

The record is envisioned as an homage to—"a dialogue with," according to the liner notes—the late blind pianist Lennie Tristano, who in addition to generally being credited as a founder of the 'cool school' (an oversimplification, to be sure), and an early avant-garde pioneer, was also a primary teacher and influence on Konitz (as well as tenorist Warne Marsh). Though he is often thought of as being a somewhat separate musical line from bebop, he was nonetheless a great admirer of Charlie Parker, playing on many of Bird's early recordings in the late 1940s, and later serving as a pallbearer in his funeral. Strangely, given its stated intent, there isn't a single composition credited to Tristano on the record.

Iverson is well represented though, opening with his "Blueberry Ice Cream take 2" a relatively conventional blues with a quick walking bass line and catchy melody. The direct connection to Tristano is, of course, Konitz who's own playing in recent years has become freer, with very little melodic structure. Iverson lays out for Konitz' compact solo which has an airiness to it that floats above the straight-ahead structure of the tune. Iverson's piano work is, in places, more reminiscent of Thelonious Monk than Tristano.

The intro to "Try A Little Tenderness" is very reminiscent of Tristano's melancholy "Requiem" featuring broad, well- sustained chords before Konitz and the rhythm section rejoin with the melody. Konitz' straight ahead statement of the tune is uncharacteristic of much of his recent playing, and he barely deviates at all leaving the improvisation to Iverson.

"It's You (Tempo Complex)" pulls a Tristano trick right out of the hat by overdubbing two pianos to psychedelic, effect. At only one minute long it's enough to convey the effect without overpowering the surrounding tracks. The following straight acoustic version of the song delivers some of Konitz' best most Konitz-like improvisations: loose and searching, endlessly inventive, but still melodic and delightful.

According to the liner notes Konitz declined to play on "Blueberry Hill" stating "Sounds like something The Bad Plus should play instead."

Costumes Are Mandatory might work best because the music and the musicians have either approached Tristano with completely different competing musical influences, or in the case of Konitz, having completely absorbed then transcended his former mentor. They're not trying to imitate Tristano, but they forge just enough of a connection to make a truly interesting record that's worth seeking out.

Track Listing: Blueberry Ice Cream take 2; Try A Little Tenderness; It's You (Tempo Complex); It's You; What's New; 317 East 32nd; Body And Soul; Blueberry Hill; A Distant Bell; Bats; Mr. Bumi; My New Lovers All Seem So Tame; My Old Flame; Blueberry Ice Cream take 1.

Personnel: Ethan Iverson: piano; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone, vocals (track 13); Larry Grenadier; Jorge Rossy.

Title: Costumes Are Mandatory | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: HighNote Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil// CD/LP/Track Review
NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Geannine Reid
Published: February 22, 2018
Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Today" CD/LP/Track Review Today
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "The Things We Did Last Summer" CD/LP/Track Review The Things We Did Last Summer
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "The Busker" CD/LP/Track Review The Busker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "In Praise of Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review In Praise of Shadows
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Slægt" CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "The Big Wig" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017